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Russian GRU’s sabotage recruitment in Baltics exposed by journalists

Investigative journalists expose how Russia’s GRU recruited Baltic locals for sabotage, including a firebomb attack on a military facility in Kyiv, as detailed in court documents.
russian gru's sabotage recruitment baltics exposed journalists illustration rebaltica tituls-1
Illustration by Re:Baltica.
Russian GRU’s sabotage recruitment in Baltics exposed by journalists

Journalists from The Insider, Re:Baltica, and Delfi have exposed how Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency is recruiting individuals from the Baltic states for sabotage operations in Ukraine and other Western countries, according to an investigative report. Detailed findings, including Latvian and Estonian court documents, reveal a systematic approach to undermine Western support for Ukraine through acts of vandalism and arson.

One notable incident uncovered in the investigation was a firebombing of an undisclosed military facility in Kyiv by a Latvian national, carried out just a month before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. This act was part of a broader campaign by the GRU to destabilize regions strategically important to NATO and Ukraine.

The investigation also highlighted a specific case where a homeowner in the village of Rembate, Latvia, found a note with detailed instructions for photographing the Lielvārde Military Airfield. This note, accidentally left by a recruited Latvian saboteur, prompted an immediate response from Latvian Military Intelligence and Security Service, unveiling a network of Baltic nationals involved in espionage activities.

Surveillance operations and court documents cited by the journalists show that these recruitment efforts are part of what Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has described as a “shadow war” waged by the Kremlin. The GRU’s tactics include using social media platforms like Telegram to identify and instruct potential saboteurs, with payments often made in cryptocurrency.

The report covers various other sabotage operations linked to the GRU across NATO countries, including arson attacks on a shopping mall in Warsaw, an IKEA warehouse in Vilnius, and a museum in Riga.


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